Great Britain

Saltaire's Karl Blackwell captures our lives under lockdown

LIKE many of us, our entire lives have been turned upside down in lockdown and Saltaire photographer Karl Blackwell is no different.

The photographer would normally be setting off on an international trip or mixing with stars in their studios, having taken portraits of the Rolling Stones and Michael Stipe from REM to name a couple.

But covid-19 restrictions have meant he is unable to fly and has little work to keep him busy.

Over the past two months, Karl has been documenting life in the pandemic and capturing scenes of our new normal and scenes of daily life.*

Bradford Telegraph and Argus:

The ongoing photo series has captured moments which would have seemed like a strange, abnormal dream just a few weeks ago.

Our way of life has changed immensely in the past two months.

Each Thursday, we have clapped for key workers. We wait for the daily Number 10 conference. We queue two metres from on another on the weekly shop. We see loved ones virtually or at a distance.

Bradford Telegraph and Argus:

Karl told the Telegraph & Argus: "I’ve been focusing my photography on aspects of daily life, particularly within my family but not exclusively.

"My parents both live apart but are both in the high-risk category meaning they have to self-isolate.

Bradford Telegraph and Argus:

"My mother, for example, a diabetic receives an NHS carer twice a day to check her blood-sugar levels and administer insulin.

Bradford Telegraph and Argus:

"With my parents in mind, I’ve focused somewhat on the solitary aspect of the pandemic, the isolation, the social distancing, the emptiness of the streets, even the eerie emptiness of train carriages.

Bradford Telegraph and Argus:

"I’ve also had a glimpse of the Yorkshire Ambulance at work and have snapped evidence of the continued hard work of the NHS an the appreciation the nation has for them.

"They were working diligently but still able to chat and smile while I took a few photos.

"The whole episode only lasted about five minutes."

Bradford Telegraph and Argus:

Karl's passion for photography began as a five-year-old boy as he used his dad's Kodak Brownie for 12-exposure films.

His earliest photos were taken while climbing up Snowdon.

Since then he took a slow transition from teaching full-time to being a freelance photographer.

In the past year Karl has travelled to the Seychelles, Oman, Abu Dhabi and Ajman (both in the United Arab Emirates), as well as many European countries such as France, Italy, Spain, Germany, Cyprus and Belgium.

Things are different now amid a global pandemic.

Karl said: "It's changed things completely for me. Cancelled trips, no work and no interest from clients since they're pretty much all within the tourism/ travel sector and of course, there's none of that going on anywhere in the world. Nobody's spending on advertising at the moment."

Bradford Telegraph and Argus:

Karl's work has often been international, meaning this has been an unprecedented challenge.

He even started planning a full time photography career as a teacher in France.

Looking back at his life in photography so far, Karl said: "I was teaching overseas and using the holidays to travel extensively and gradually build up a large body of work for my portfolio, and doing odd photography assignments here and there, but I didn’t feel it was enough.

"It’s a big decision to drop a salaried job for a freelancer’s career with none of the job security, but I always felt I had to take the plunge and go full-time as a freelancer.

"'Time Out Paris' was one of my first steady clients who gave me a lot of freelance work while I continued with my full-time teaching post at a Grande Ecole (University) in Paris.

"Gradually I was able to reduce my days at the University in favour of more photography work for Time Out.

"I always enjoy returning to the Seychelles, and since I know the place intimately I always have fun when I go there. I spent a month in Tokyo for Time Out, shooting one of their guidebooks.

"This was a city I already knew very well having previously lived there. For seven years I worked as a music photographer for a magazine in Paris."

During his time in Paris, he would get to snap the singers of the century on stage.

Looking back, he said: "There are plenty of big egos and shallow personalities out there but I found Michael Stipe of REM particularly interesting and modest."

You can see more of Karl's work by visiting: www.karlblackwell.com

Alternatively, if you would like to request work or lessons from Karl, email [email protected]

*Please note these photos belong to the photographer Karl Blackwell and must not be downloaded, distributed or reproduced in any way. They have been shared with the Telegraph & Argus for this article.

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